Finding Hidden Value

For some businesses, the new financial year can be a time of immense change: new plans, new clients or new onerous demands. For some, it’s the trigger to take a step back and look at their financial position. But for many, it’s just another day, engaged with our ‘busy-ness’.

What about you?

Early April shouldn’t be the only time we take a deeper look at ourselves. But sadly, the characteristics of the travel industry – fast-paced, sales-focussed, having to deal with endless changes from customers, demanding operators and third parties such as banks and shareholders – can make it hard to find time to stop and breathe. (In fact, other industries are also guilty, and they don’t have the excuse of the high-pressure environment.)

And from what I have seen, the tendency for us to rush into new holiday markets for fear of being left out – which admittedly can result in good sales – can have consequences for the back office, with hastily designed administration systems, resultant inefficiencies, and/or overly complicated financial situations.

Indeed, as a result, operations and finance teams can become quite disconnected, with the latter feeling as if they are always left to pick up the pieces.

This was certainly the case in my recent work with a tour operator and travel agent. The gap between sales and the rest of the business, and resulting complexity, had got so great that one business was at risk of failing an Independent Business Review, the other at risk of outright failure in a distressed sale situation.  With crisis intervention, both companies had successful outcomes – but with foresight, neither should have got to such situations.

Stepping back to look at your businesses is one way of avoiding such worst-case scenarios from occurring. Others particularly benefitting would, for example, include under-achieving businesses (not performing to expectations); those being forced by third parties to go through restructuring or a business turnaround; a business with a new/imminent change in their CEO or chairman providing new leadership and direction; or those with a change in company ownership.

For these travel businesses, it’s the ideal time to conduct what I call a ‘Hidden Value Inquiry’. By this I mean deep conversations with staff, from the very top to the very bottom, in a structured, independent way, to collate and analyse everyone’s views on areas such as, what is going on in the business, their remedies for the inevitable everyday headaches, and their bright ideas for the future.

And from my experience of conducting such Inquiries, staff are not often asked for their views, but have a wealth of insights – some of which were previously ignored or conveniently forgotten by managers. And once these are shared and developed with directors and mangers, they have the potential to transform a company – and frequently in just a few months.

Looking at your Hidden Value can help you turn around, renew and grow your businesses.

Appeared in TravelMole – 4 April, 2016

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